The Secret to an Intelligent Content Strategy – Part 1 – Personas

By Duncan Hendy in Marketing
·6 min read

Lots of companies are well aware that randomly throwing out content like a tempestuous teenage tantrum is not going to get them anywhere. By having a content strategy, they can create order, meaning, effectiveness, goals, and measurability. But surely that’s easier said than done, isn’t it?

Welcome to the first part of this new series on how to inject the necessary intelligence into your content strategy. It is going to be a long journey, so make sure you make yourself a reasonably sized thermos of Alphabetti Spaghetti to get you through it. Not only is it nutritious, delicious, and guaranteed to reward you with a bright-orange mustache, you might find out when you see how much content you need to create or repurpose, you’ll need all the extra letters you can get!

Who’s on First?

Before you go rattling off your hypothetical bucket list of must-haves, there is one group of people you need on your side if you can even have a hope in hell’s chance of succeeding. Your “audience”. Ring any bells? “Yes, I know what audience means”, I hear you cry, “but remind me again—who are they?”

Stop sweating, calm down, it’s OK, they’re not going to hurt you if you don’t know who they are. But you had better get to know them before you start anything. Your content strategy should be about persona-driven writing and targeting. It’s impossible to have a conversation with anyone if we don’t know who they are, what they are like, and what they want to talk about, so it’s critical we spend time clearly identifying and learning about our target audience. And we should know our audience as well as we know our own brand. We should know who our primary target market is, not only demographics, but their mindset about the products we offer.

What do they need? These are the product must-haves we must deliver to be in the game. And, what do they want that they may not be currently getting and that gives us a point of difference? What competitive products do they currently use? How are ours better?

That means you need to know their job title, level of education, whether they are a creative, a doer, a worker, a shirker, an irreverent smirker… Simply put, by the time you’ve finished, you should be able to pick them out of an identity parade.

Persona Personified

So, it’s obvious you need to build up a clear picture of your buyer persona, but what kind of information will help you achieve this? Thankfully, this is the focus of this first part. With this in mind, let’s start by dividing the necessary info into sections.

1) Their role and goals

  • What is their job title?
  • What does this job involve?
  • What tasks/responsibilities are associated with their role?
  • Do they need a skills/knowledge set?
  • What technologies do they use in their day-to-day work?
  • Who is their superior? Do they manage a team? Do they possess any authority?
  • What role do they play in purchasing decisions?
  • How is success measured in their role?

2) Their challenges

  • How would you define their greatest challenges?
  • What do they do to overcome these challenges?

3) Their company

  • Which industry is the company they work for in?
  • Where is the company based?
  • Is it independent, part of a group, privately owned?
  • What is the size of their company (revenue, branches, employees)?
  • Do they outsource, do they collaborate on projects?
  • How do they find work?

4) How they go about information gathering

  • Where do they go to learn about new information?
  • What publication, blogs, influencers do they read/follow?
  • How much time do they devote to educating themselves?
  • Do they use podcasts, webinars, YouTube?
  • Do they participate in events? Which ones? As exhibitors or visitors?
  • Which associations, social networks, charities do they belong to?
  • How do they make new business connections?

5) Personal background:

  • Their age
  • Family status
  • Educational level

6) Purchasing preferences:

  • How do they prefer to discuss purchasing decisions (through email, by phone, personally)?
  • How often do they invest in new technologies?
  • Does one person decide on purchases or is there a committee? Who are the members? What are their roles/decision-making powers?
  • What is their typical acquisition journey when obtaining new technologies?
  • How long does the purchasing decision take?

Now you have given yourself a clear picture of who your buyer personas are, you can start to put flesh on the bones. Now, this might sound like some kind of bizarre voodoo ritual, but personas need to breathe as much as the real thing. That means you should give them a name, refer to them by it, draw stick person versions of them, give them clothes, hair, know the places they hang out, the language they use, the way they define themselves. Any little details that take you one step closer to understanding who they are are essential to guaranteeing you at least know whom your content strategy is for.

Getting to the Point

Now that we’ve identified our primary target, in what ways should we communicate with them to get them to think about trying out our brand? Each company has something to say, and we need to know what we want to say and convey so it is relevant, interesting, and convincing for our audience. In order to achieve this, it is essential that we know:

To whom we are talking? We need to bring that audience to life. We need to determine all the essential info we need to connect their lives with our brand.

Do we already know things that are relevant for us to relate with them? Do we have a key understanding about how our audience interacts with and perceives our brand that we can use to our advantage to guarantee our connection with them?

In what way do they think? Can we influence this, and how? We need to ensure we shape those people that don’t know our brand and reinforce our values in those that do. By grasping their current views, as well as knowing the brands they associate with, we can establish our voice, and the tone we want to apply to it. We need to influence their thinking first before we can affect the way they act.

What do we want to communicate to them? What is our ideology we want to get across? When speaking to them, it is essential that our main idea is the one that reaches them.

How can we convince them to trust us? Anything we say to them must be backed up. Are there values that our brand can deliver to them consistently?

What is key to our communication strategy? What goal should it achieve?

How can we have aspirational values that our audience would want to associate with? Do we have a brand attitude? What is it? What emotions should we evoke? Are we conventional, edgy, self-confident, or humorous?

By relating our brand on the emotional level, how people feel about our brand, as well as rationally, the benefits and features of our brand, we are thinking about the narrative of our brand. And doing so in a fervently exciting and motivating way.

By understanding our audience and market, we can ensure that we are always on those channels our audience frequent. And in knowing the places they go to educate and familiarize themselves about new products, only then can we capture their attention, and guarantee we are able to nurture them through the sales funnel.

What are your experiences of establishing your content strategy? How do you go about implementing the stages covered in this article? Are there some methods that you have found better than others? We would love to read about them. Share them in the comments section below.

By Duncan Hendy in Marketing
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